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An asterisk (*) preceding a Sanskṛt word herein means ‘derived from the verbal root …’



Gandharvas The musicians and singers of the gods, represented as dwelling in the sky and preparing the heavenly soma-juice for the gods, as they are especially skilled in medicine. In the Vedas they are described as revealing the secrets of heaven and divine truths to men. The Atharva-Veda mentions that there are 6,333 Gandharvas. Cosmically – the Gandharvas are the aggregate powers of the solar-fire, and constitute its Forces; psychically – the intelligence residing in the Sushumna,Solar ray, the highest of the seven rays; mystically – the occult force in the Soma (the moon, or lunar plant) and the drink made of it; physically – the phenomenal, and spiritually – the noumenal causes of Sound and the ‘Voice of Nature.’ Hence, they are called the 6,333 ‘heavenly Singers’ and musicians of Indra’s loka who personify (even in number) the various and manifold sounds in Nature, both above and below.” (S.D. I, 523) (Bh.G. 74)

Gāndīva (or Gāndīva) A remarkable bow which Arjuna received from the fire-god Agni in order that he might assist the deity in a battle with the god of the sky, Indra. At this time Arjuna also assisted Agni in the burning of the Khandava forest – an episode in the Mahābhārata.The bow was originally given by Soma to the god Varuṇa, who in turn passed it on to Agni. It is likewise said to have belonged to Prajāpati Brahmā, and Śiva. (Bh.G. 6)

Ganges (Ganga) The sacred river of India, represented in the Purāṇas as taking its rise in the heavens from the toe of Viṣṇu, and brought down to earth through the prayers of the sage Bhagiratha, in order to purify the ashes of the sixty thousand sons of king Sāgara. (These sons had been destroyed by the angry glance of the sage Kapila.) Ganga intended to flood the earth (because of being obliged to descend from her heavenly abode), but the force of the fall was intercepted by the god Śiva, who caught the river in his matted locks, and allowed it to descend from his brow in seven gentle streams upon the earth. Ganga is personified as a goddess, the daughter of Mena and Himavat (the personification of the Himalaya mountains). The goddess became the wife of king Santanu and gave birth to Bhīshma. (Bh.G. 75)

Garuḍa The bearer of Viṣṇu (hence often called Viṣṇu-ratha): represented as having the body and limbs of a man but the head, wings, talons, and beak of an eagle; the face being white, the wings red, and the body golden. Garuḍa is regarded as the king of the birds and the great enemy of serpents: his parents were the Vedic sage Kasyapa and Vinatā – one of the daughters of Dakṣa (one of the Prajāpatis). The myths also relate that Garuḍa once took the Amṛta (q.v.) from the gods in order to purchase the freedom of his mother from Kadru. Indra pursued Garḍa and recovered the Amṛta – although the god of the sky was worsted in the battle for it. Garuḍa is “the symbol esoterically of the great cycle,” (S.D. II, 323), while his son, Jatayu “is, of course, the cycle of 60,000 years within the great cycle of GARŪDA; hence he is represented as his son, or nephew,” (S.D. II, 570). (Bh.G. 75)

Gāyatrī An ancient meter of 24 syllables (variously arranged, but generally as a triplet of 8 syllables each). The word is also applied specifically to a verse in the Rig-Veda,iii, 62, 10:

tat savitur vareñam bhargo devasya dhimahi,
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

Literal translation: “Let us meditate on that excellent splendor of the divine Sun; may it illumine our hearts (minds).” (Bh.G. 76)

Govinda A name applied to Kṛṣṇa. It refers to the time of his youth, for he was reared amongst the cowherds. (m. chief of cowherds: go,a cow. Bh.G. 11)

Gudakeśa One of the names given to Arjuna. (m. thick-haired. Bh.G. 79)

Guṇa Attribute, quality, or peculiarity; also thread, cord, string of a musical instrument. According to the Sāṅkhya philosophy, prakṛti is considered to possess three basic qualities or qualitative bases (triguṇa), namely sattva (substantial reality), rajas (inherent activity), and tamas (inertia), popularly rendered goodness, passion, and darkness; or virtue, foulness, and ignorance.

Guru A Teacher, a Preceptor, especially one who imparts spiritual teachings to a disciple. (Bh.G. 86)